The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Right Honourable Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has announced the temporary appointment of Sarah Ling as the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland in accordance with section 14(5) of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962.

The appointment will commence on 3 April 2023 and run for a maximum period of three months until a new Chief Electoral Officer is able to take up the role.


Sarah Ling currently performs duties as deputy to the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland and was deputy returning officer for Belfast constituencies at the last Assembly elections. She is a former Electoral Service Manager for the London Borough of Croydon and consultant for the Association of Electoral Administrators working on the delivery of elections (combined Parliamentary, Local and Parish 2015, Police and Crime Commission 2016, EU Referendum 2016, Parliamentary 2017, European Parliamentary 2019, Parliamentary 2019 and various by elections). She is also a former head of Registration Reform and Canvass Reform in the Cabinet Office.


This appointment is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Political Activity

All appointments are made on merit and with regards to the statutory requirements.  Political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity in defined categories to be made public.

Sarah Ling has declared no political activity in the past ten years.

Published 14 March 2023